A vital link in The Loop recreational trail — the 14-mile Julian Wash Greenway segment — has been completed, and a celebration to mark the milestone will take place Saturday.

“This segment is a key piece of The Loop — the southern leg” of a network of trails looping around the Tucson metro area, said Nanette Slusser, assistant Pima County administrator. The county oversees the trail system for nonmotorized travel that now totals 103 miles and eventually will be 131 miles.

The Julian Wash segment — extending from the Santa Cruz River southeast to Rita Road — “serves a population that didn’t previously have convenient access to The Loop,” Slusser said. “It also gives schoolkids a way to get to school without being on streets.”

Pima County Supervisor Ramón Valadez, whose district includes part of The Loop, said the Julian Wash segment “presents a wonderful opportunity for connectivity.”

“It’s important not only in terms of fitness, but also because of the pivotal role it can play in joining different parts of our community through being outside and practicing a healthy lifestyle,” Valadez said.

ROUTE HIGHLIGHTS

The newly completed segment takes walkers, runners and cyclists through a mix of terrain with parks and other attractions along the way.

The Julian Wash Cultural History Walk, at 2820 S. 12th Ave., includes displays and information panels detailing life along the wash from prehistoric to modern times.

Another stretch of the trail along the wash east of Interstate 19 passes through the Carmelin Castro Itom Usim Children’s Park.

Farther southeast, trail users pass the Kino Sports Complex, Augie Acuña Los Niños Park, Thomas Jay Regional Park and the Roy Schoonover Trailhead.

County officials noted that work on a final 2.7-mile section of the Julian Wash segment was funded by the Community Healthcare Benefit Foundation of Pima County, supported by Tucson Medical Center and Carondelet Health Network.

Saturday’s celebration begins at 10 a.m. at the Mulcahy YMCA at the Kino Sports Complex, 2805 E. Ajo Way. See the accompanying box on Page One for details.

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at dkreutz@tucson.com or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz